David Bowie’s first known studio recording sells for almost £40,000

Tape, which features a 16-year-old Bowie on saxophone and vocals, was found in a bread bin

The recording was expected to make about £10,000. Photographs: Roy Ainsworth., Courtesy of the David Bowie Archive; Omega Auctions/PA

The recording was expected to make about £10,000. Photographs: Roy Ainsworth., Courtesy of the David Bowie Archive; Omega Auctions/PA

 

David Bowie’s first-known studio recording, which was rejected by a record company and found in a bread basket, has been sold for nearly £40,000 (€44,876).

The 1963 demo tape features a 16-year-old Bowie, then David Jones, in his first band The Konrads.

The group was turned down by Decca and the tape of Bowie singing I Never Dreamed was never released. Bowie quit the band in the following months, but his career took off six years later with Space Oddity.

David Bowie in a promotional shoot for The Kon-rads in 1963. Photograph: Roy Ainsworth/Courtesy of the David Bowie Archive 2012.
David Bowie in a promotional shoot for The Kon-rads in 1963. Photograph: Roy Ainsworth/Courtesy of the David Bowie Archive 2012.

On Tuesday, at an auction in Newton-le-Willows, the tape fetched £39,360 from an overseas collector. It had been estimated to sell for £10,000. Director of Omega Auctions, Karen Fairweather, said there had been a “bidding frenzy”.

Also sold were promotional sketches drawn by Bowie when he was in The Konrads. Along with photographs and band documents, they sold for £17,130.

The tape and memorabilia was discovered by former Konrads’ drummer David Hadfield, who also managed the band.

He unearthed it, while moving house in the 1990s, in the loft of his garage, in a bread basket that once belonged to his grandfather.

Bowie was the band’s saxophonist but it was decided that he should sing lead vocals for the tape.

The recording was expected to make about £10,000. Photograph: Omega Auctions/PA
The recording discovered in an attic. Photograph: Omega Auctions/PA

Hadfield said: “David had no inclination to become a singer at this point, his heart and mind were focused on becoming a world class saxophone player.

“Our agent, Eric Easton, who also managed the Rolling Stones, asked us to do a demo so he could try and get us an audition at Decca.

“So in early 1963 I booked into RG Jones’ small studio in Morden.

“In preparation for the demo, David and our guitarist Neville Wills wrote two to three songs.

“We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song.

“I chose I Never Dreamed as it was the strongest, the other two were a bit weak.

“I also decided that David was the best person to sing it and give the right interpretation.

“So this became the very first recording of David Jones (Bowie) singing 55 years ago.

“There is no other recording of the demo featuring David as lead in existence.

“Decca initially turned us down, but when they eventually gave us an audition later that year, vocalist Roger Ferris was the lead voice and David sang backing harmonies.”

Bowie left the band shortly after the audition.

Bowie died in January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday. – PA